Stream It Or Skip It: ‘Narco-Saints’ On Netflix, About A Korean Businessman Ensnared Into Fighting The Drug Trade In Suriname

netflix new korean drama, narco-saint, combines the “fish out of water” style with the “regular guy caught in something bad” style, to great effect. how do we know? Because this is a show that is serious, but not over-serious. Read on for an explanation of what we mean.

Opening Shot: “2009, Suriname Border.” A group of trucks drives through a road in the woods. In the back of one of the trucks, a Korean man wearing glasses is holding a signed baseball. “Do you know about a country called Suriname? You probably don’t,” says the man in a voice.

essence: The man is Kang In-gu (Ha Jang-woo), who tells his story as to why he is there. Born in 1968, his father went to fight in Vietnam, then when he returned he did many jobs, especially after the death of In-gu’s mother, until she also died in a work-related accident. At the time, In-gu was in charge of looking after his brothers, doing many chores himself. He married the first woman who agreed to it, more so to help him regain control of his life; Then they had children, and the various jobs he was working in became businesses. He worked his donkey, but could barely make a living.

Then a friend of his, Park Yeung-soo (Hyun Bong Shik), comes home from a worldwide excursion selling fish with a business opportunity: export skate fish from Suriname, where it is not eaten, to Korea with huge profits. export to. After convincing his wife, and nearly being arrested at a karaoke bar, he arrives in the small South American country ready to engage in the fish trade.

As a knowledgeable businessman, he can guide his more retarded companions to potential problems, such as when an army officer comes and tells him he needs to pay for “protection”. But when a Chinese gangster named Chen Zhen (Chang Chen) claims he “owns the ocean” and physically threatens her with his monthly shakedown, it seems the accomplices are in a jam.

At the behest of his wife, In-gu goes to church to pretend to pray. The pastor, Jeon Yoo-hwan (Hwang Jung-min) is happy to see two Koreans at his church, so he meets them. The scars on the partners’ faces indicate that they are having problems, so they tell the pastor about Chen Zhen. The influential pastor drags men into the Chinatown of Paramaribo, the capital of Suriname, and slowly negotiates a no better deal. But In-gu is shocked when he learns that a shipment was intercepted because of a cocaine hiding in Aruba.

Photo: Cho Wonjin/Netflix

Will the show remind you? narco-saint I am breaking bad And ozarki “Ordinary school’s school gets caught up in drugs/money laundering/organized crime and things spiral from there.”

Our take: Written by Kwon Sung-hui and Yoon Jong-bin (the show is also directed by Yoon), narco-saint Kang does a good job of showing the absurdity, or at least the weirdness, of In-gu’s story, which is based on true events. It’s a show that’s definitely made for an international audience, not only because it takes place outside of South Korea, but because it’s about a normal person who moves from his home to the other side of the world. Strange is caught up in the country’s drug trade.

The first episode isn’t trying to make this dark woe that shows how In-gu gets caught up in Suriname’s biggest business – he says it comprises half of the small country’s population of 500,000. While In-gu’s life isn’t exactly sweet and light, he treats his plight with a fact that detracts almost amusingly, as if he were watching his crazy life from above. That approach helps here; In-gu knows that his story is not believable at all and that’s what he says about her.

It will be interesting to see how he engages in the Suriname government’s fight against the country’s drug lords, how Pastor Jean is involved, and if In-gu will ever go back home – as we all know, he doesn’t want to. .

sex and skin none.

Parting Shot: After hiking, In-gu is eventually captured by local law enforcement.

Sleeper Star: It’s great fun to see Chang Chen as Chen Zhen as this squirrel but dangerous gangster who might intimidate someone like In-gu, but seems to have no way of standing in front of Pastor Jin.

Most pilot-y line: As the pastor instructs Chen Zhen to give the skates to In-gu and Yung-soo, he says, “This is what God commands, son of the bitch.” Wow, pastor! Do you kiss the foreheads of your parishioners with that mouth?

Our Call: Stream IT. narco-saint Doesn’t take itself too seriously, which, with its setting, makes it one of the better Korean dramas we’ve ever seen squid game,

Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting, and technology, but doesn’t kid himself: He’s crazy about TV. His writings have appeared in The New York Times, Slate, Salon., vanityfair.comFast Company and elsewhere.

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